The next version of the Linux kernel will include support for popular programming language Rust, it has been confirmed.
As reported by The Register, Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, has now accepted a pull request that will bring Rust support to the kernel with version 6.1.
The idea is not to rebuild the entire kernel in Rust, but rather to complement the existing C codebase with new components written in the secondary language, helping to reduce the likelihood of memory bugs that lead to security vulnerabilities.
Rust in Linux 6.1
With the release of Linux 6.0 last weekend, eyes will now inevitably turn to the next version. Although the latest kernel update included only relatively unsexy changes, the addition of Rust to Linux 6.1 is considered a major addition.
The campaign to bring Rust to Linux has been ongoing for some time, earning support from an array of stakeholders, including Google, which developed Android atop the Linux platform.
“We feel that Rust is now ready to join C as a practical language for implementing the kernel,” said Wedson Almeida Filho, a member of the Android team.
“It can help us reduce the number of potential bugs and security vulnerabilities in privileged code while playing nicely with the core kernel and preserving its performance characteristics.”
Until recently, concerns around the need to build non-standard extensions for Rust in order to make it compatible with Linux have limited progress. But ultimately, it was decided the language is sufficiently well-supported in Clang, a compiler front end for the C family of languages.
The initial merge brings roughly 12,500 lines of Rust code to the kernel, laying the groundwork for subsystem abstractions and Rust-based drivers, to be introduced with future pull requests.
Following the traditional pattern, Linux 6.1 should go live within the next two to three months.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.